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Solskjaer to make decision on Ighalo as Man United prepare for crucial Chelsea clash


Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. Photo: Phil Noble/Reuters

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. Photo: Phil Noble/Reuters


Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. Photo: Phil Noble/Reuters

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has yet to decide whether he will hand new striker Odion Ighalo his debut for the club in Monday's Premier League game against Chelsea.

Ighalo, who arrived on loan from Chinese club Shanghai Shenhua on transfer deadline day last month, has yet to train with the United first team as he was given a two-week 'incubation' period away from the rest of the staff amid concerns over the coronavirus.

While there was never any suggestion that Ighalo was a carrier of the virus, Solskjaer explained that the concern over the outbreak in China led to United's decision to make him train away from the rest of the squad and now he has to consider whether he will have a role to play at Chelsea.

"I never said he was gonna be ready to play on Monday," Solskjaer said. "He'll be involved with us and travel down with us. Now he's out of that two-week period that was just just a precaution, let's see if he's involved or not.

"We've kept in touch with him and of course we've done our own programme, he's done his, and it was always going to be a case of him having to integrate having been out in China. He needs to get used to the players, the team and get up to speed as quick as he can.

"He's been working really hard, pinching himself at times at his favourite club at the age of 30 but he's earned that one and hopefully he impresses us so we can see him play.

"With the injury Marcus Rashford, we needed another forward. When we got the chance to get Odion on a loan that was for us a goalscorer, the top scorer at AFCON last year, he can help the club. He is a very professional player, a good lad and will give something to the group.

"At the end of December and January, Anthony (Martial) and Mason (Greenwood) had played loads of games, we lacked that bit of spark. But with Odion, we hope that he gives us a different type of striker and a chance in games to rest Anthony or Mason and play in a different way maybe."

Rashford, Paul Pogba and Scott McTominay remain injury absentees for United heading into the Chelsea game, yet Solskjaer believes the introduction of the winter break in the Premier League will improve the action this weekend.

"How do you go about without playing with Marcus, Paul, Scott? You deal with it," Solskjaer added. "Players are gonna get a chance, they have had a great rest, it was beneficial for absolutely everyone in the squad, individually, the team, but other teams and the league.

"The quality of football will improve. January and December were relentless for us, so it's a good move by the authorities to give us that weekend. At Manchester United, you don't get two weeks without games when you've got everyone, so not it's up to the boys to show freshness."

Online Editors